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Full text of "Mathura A District Memoir"

THE TISEXNT  GH^T.                                                143
" Once upon a time there was a Brahman living at TJjjaiyin, who neg-
lected all his religious duties,  never bathed, never said a prayer, never went
near a temple.   One night, when out with a gang of thieves, he was surprised
by the city watchmen, and in running away from them fell down a dry well
and broke his neck.   His ghost was doomed to haunt the place, and was so
fierce that it would tear to pieces and devour every one who came near it.
This went on for many years, .till at last one day a band of travellers happened
to pitch their tents by the well, and among their number was a very holy and
learned Brahman.   So soon as he knew how the neighbourhood was afflicted,
he had recourse to his spells and compelled the evil spirit to appear before him.
Discovering, in the course of his examination, that the wretched creature had
in his lifetime been a Brahman, he was moved with pity for him and promised
to do all in his power to alleviate his sentence.    Whereupon the ghost begged
him to go straight to Mathura, and bathe on his behalf at the Yisrant Ghat,
f for,* said he,i I once in my life went into a temple of Yiahnu, and heard the
priest repeat this holy name and tell its wondrous saving power.'    The Brah-
man had often bathed there and readily  agreed to transfer the merit of one
such ablution.   The words of consent had no sooner passed his lips than the
guilty soul was absolved from all further suffering."*
* To a devout Hindu, who believes that Krishna was an incarnation of the Deity, and that
he hallowed with his presence the place now called the Visrant Ghat, there is no intrinsic ab-
surdity in the legend as above quoted. It can be paralleled IB all its particulars by many that
have been recorded for the edification of the faithful by canonized saints of the Church. That
the merit of good deeds can be transferred—the point upon which the story "mainly turns is a
cardinal Catholic doctrine -, and as to the dying in sin and yet being saved through the efficacy
of a formal act of devotion, take the following example from the pages of S. Alphonsus Liguori:—
*' A certain Canon was reciting some prayers in honour of the Divine Mother, and, whilst doing
so, fell into the river Seine and was drowned. Being ia mortal sin, the devils came to take
him to hell. In the same moment Mary appeared and said, * How do you dare to take possession,
of one -who died in the act of praising me ? ' Then addressing herself to the sinner, she said,
* Now change thy life and nourish derotion to my Conception/ He returned to life and became
a Beligious." Here the concluding words correspond precisely with the finale of the story of
the barber Tinduk, a& told on the next page. In short, the Hindu in his ideas of divine worship,
of the religious life, of the efficacy of faith and good works, of the earnest sympathy of the
Divine Being with human distress, and His occasional miracnions intervention for its relief, falls
little, if at all, short of Catholic truth. Unhappily he has no clear perception of the true God to
whom the derotion, which he understands so well should alone be paid : yet for all this draw-
back, Hinduism remains in one aspect divine, which, is more than can be said either of Islam
or of Protestantism. They are both essentially human inventions in direct antagonism to the
truth, while Hinduism ia a genuine natural religion,, which only needs to be sastaiaed and com-
pleted by BeTelation. Thus S. Augustine says of the heathen, of old: 4*Ees ipsa quae nunc